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Why Do Dogs Bark and How Do We Cure It?

Barking dogs are the number one reason in Australia for dog related neighbour complaints!

Dogs bark for a variety of reasons. Some are inspired by their drives, some out of fear, some to communicate, boredom etc and the list goes on. Either way, out of control barking dogs are quite a nuisance.

In all cases this problem needs to have the root cause addressed, please see a Behaviourist near you.

Nuisance Barking
Dogs that bark for non-productive reasons will at one time or another be considered a nuisance. Whether it be by the owner or their neighbours, it’s a problem that needs to be addressed.Barker-1

Safety reasons aside, strong steps should be taken to avoid your dog bringing unwanted attention from neighbours and councils etc. Barking dogs are this countries # 1 reason for neighbour disputes. It can attract people to poison your dogs and worse.

When it comes to stopping unwanted barkers, here are the available options:-

Training

Dogs can be trained to bark on command for a reward. Then when your not around, sometimes they feel no reward is available, and wont bark. This is the least effective method.

Mental Stimulation

Exercise your dog, give him behavioural toys that will keep him active, see our range here.

Relieve Tension and stress

Sometimes dogs become anxious and or stressed at being left alone, if you feel yoru dog falls into this description, then you should seek out a behaviourist in your area. In the short term though, try the supplements and mental stimulation toys.

Surgery

Barker2-1Vets can perform a procedure known as de barking. It requires written advice from councils in some states. Some consider it mutilation.

The problem I have with de barking is that, whilst risks are low in today’s vet surgery, they are still present. The other issue is that the surgery is permanent.

This creates 2 more issues at least. If you ever want your dog to bark at a stranger or provide a watch dog type role, that’s gone. The other is that dogs often use their bark to drive off feared items, before they need to bite. With no method of communication, you have no warning of the dogs feelings and the dog has lost it’s number one defence mechanism.

Elimination/Management

You can try and figure out what is triggering the bark and eliminating it. It could be kids banging on your fence or a cat walking on it.

You can also walk your dog twice a day, this activity has been proven to relax dogs by releasing endorphins into the brain and calming the dog down. I would recommend the walk twice a day with any dog.

Some dogs bark at others at night that are far away, bringing your dog inside may manage the problem, but it won’t cure it. On occasions it can worsen the problem by teaching the dog to bark to come inside.

Productive, protective barking

We can tell you that my neighbours have been barked at by my dogs. None of them have been trained to protect the property but their personal protection training coupled with their territorial instincts protect the property. They will bark at anyone passing by or coming to the gate. They do not bark at nothing so I don’t include these in the nuisance-barking category, my neighbours might.

Anti Bark Devices

Citronella spraying collars

We would not use one of these collars on a dog. There are, in my opinion many reasons why.

These type of collars are meant as an aversive, that means a correction after the unwanted behaviour. This type of training is well documented and the rules of aversive are:

  1. The aversive must be delivered as close after the unwanted behaviour as possible.
  2. The correction must be swift and not lingering.
  3. The correction must be effective.
  4. The correction must be consistent and fair.

Looking at the above rules. Many dogs don’t mind citronella, so when the spray occurs, they can actually perceive this as a reward. The correction won’t be effective and the behaviour not modified.

Citronella is an airborne gas. It in some cases can linger for quite a while, hours in fact, the correction is not then swift, fact is, the dog goes on being corrected for many hours after the behaviour is stopped.

Sometimes the collar sprays onto the dogs bed or kennel, you may teach your dog the kennel is to be avoided.

If you have a second dog, the collar can spray it, for nothing. When the gas runs out, the dog is free to bark… In my experience, I have noted a 30% success rate with these collars.

There is also one more reason I won’t use them. This is the Material Safety Data Sheet on Citronella, sent to me by a friend.

SECTION VI – HEALTH HAZARD DATA

PRIMARY ROUTES OF ENTRY: PRODUCT CAN ENTER VIA INHALATION, INGESTION, OR SKIN CONTACT.

EFFECTS OF ACUTE OVEREXPOSURE

EYES – MAY CAUSE IRRITATION

SKIN – PROLONGED CONTACT MAY CAUSE DERMATITIS

BREATHING- VAPORS MAY IRRITATE

SWALLOWING- MAY CAUSE STOMACH IRRITATION

HEALTH HAZARDS – LIQUID MAY IRRITATE SKIN AND EYES

EMERGENCY AND FIRST AID PROCEDURES

IF ON SKIN – WASH WITH SOAP AND WATER

IF IN EYES – FLUSH WITH WATER, LIFTING UPPER AND LOWER LIDS OCCASIONALLY.

IF SWALLOWED – RINSE MOUTH WITH WATER; SEEK MEDICAL ADVICE

IF INHALED – REMOVE TO FRESH AIR

We wouldn’t be spraying this on our dogs.

Electronic Collars

We use these often, and have a 99% success rate with them. The other 1% is mostly due to human error, not charging the collar, not fitting it correctly etc.

Dogtra YS300 Anti Bark Collar
Dogtra YS300 Anti Bark Collar

They offer a short effective electronic pulse that is sensitivity and intensity adjustable.

Many modern Anti Bark collars are fully automatic, meaning the dog its persistence to bark determines the correction level of the collar.

You can also set the level of correction from 1 – 7, to suit your dogs temperament. They offer a consistent, brief correction that’s effective and harmless. Most people report the dogs barking stopped within 1 -2 days.

We have a range here

Anti Bark Muzzles

I am not a fan of this type of device, they can cause the dog to bite their tongue and really don’t cure the behaviour.

If we found my dogs or dogs barking in property protection becoming a nuisance by barking too often, I would fit an electronic no bark collar for short periods of time on the lowest setting. Making barking “at that time” annoying to them. I would also have the sensitivity turned way down so only constant loud barking would trigger the collar.

Please be aware that some states have different laws concerning the use of electronic collars, it is the users responsibility to research these before purchasing or using these products.

Also consider the use of Natural supplements for those fearful / nervous dogs. CALM

If you have a barking problem or your dog does, shoot us an email, we may be able to help!

info@k9pro.com.au

About steve-world

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6 comments

  1. My only question is that once the electronic collar is removed wouldn’t the barking start up again?? Does the collar just mask the problem barking at the time not actually stop the dog from barking again ?

  2. Hi Meg, it is process really, the first benefit is that the day the dog has the collar fits the barking stops. This reduces neighbour and council problems or perhaps helps you avoid them.

    Once the dog has been wearing the collar for some time, the barking habit will be broken as the dog will not have been rehearsing the behaviour and many people find they can remove the collar.

    It is always wise to seek out a good behaviourist near you to help implement the collar along with a strategy to address the root cause.

  3. Hi Steve, thanks for the great article. We have a 9 month old GSD that has started to bark at the neighbours on one side of our property. We believe it is protective barking as she is much worse when we’re not home. The kids also yell at her which probably doesn’t help. We have worked with our trainer to put some actions in place to try reduce the barking. These include filming every day to determine when she barks and we’ve asked our neighbour to treat her when she’s quiet. This seems to be working a bit but she still barks for several minutes as soon as she hears the kids next door.

    Do you think an anti-bark collar would work in this situation to eliminate or shorten her barking? We’re worried it may make things worse as she is only trying to protect her territory but our neighbours are starting to get understandably annoyed with being barked at when they go outside.

    Thanks Dan

    • Hey Dan, there can be issues with neighbors treating her as this can often end up the cause of the barking, bark to get treats / engagement. I would have to hear the barking to determine what the cause is.

      We have a new Anti Bark Collar called the BL-100 that will allow guard barking but reduce and or eliminate the lower motivated nuisance barking, or it can be turned up and eliminate all barking, your choice.

      It is a nice unit and can help. I would also recommend placing a iPod speaker or similar near the back door of your house, then running low level music through it all day. This will raise the ambient noise level and your dog will stay near the music. This in turn means he wont be at the fence and wont hear all the small noises. It can be a huge help.

      If things are getting tense with neighbour then the bark collar is wise so as not to put your dog at risk.

      • Thanks very much. We were worried about the treating as well, the advice was for it to offer a distraction as if we were home we would try redirect her to training or play. We were worried about the same thing though so they have been treating her if they go outside and she doesn’t bark. It’s quite a high fence so she can’t see the neighbours so I’m not sure if that makes a difference.

        We’ve being trying the radio option and it does seem to reduce the once off barks but as soon as she hears the neighbour on this one side she’ll bark. We have a good relationship with the neighbours so they are being patient but they are starting to get quite sick of it which is understandable.

        I’ve put a few examples of her barking taking from our “bark cam” on youtube if you did have a chance to have a look but absolutely no pressure. 🙂 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMSZrVbJ8xs&feature=youtu.be

        We had looked at the Dogtra IQ as it had looked quite comfortable for the dog but it sounds like the BL-100 may be a better option.

        Thanks for the reply and the excellent store by the way. We’re going to put in an order for some of the toys. They look like our puppy will love them.

        • Had a quick look, the barking is him in a little uncertainty. There is a second fear period due at around 9 – 10 – 12 months could be a little earlier or later in desexed / undesexed dogs. Not sure how old your dog is but looks like a female under 12 months to me by the body type.

          I would start with the music and this will over tone smaller noises that cause that growling / uncertainty. If the barking is a sore point amongst neighbours use the BL100 in beeper mode for now and if no improvement then training mode that has beeper first then stimulation.

          Your dog isn’t aiming at the neighbour but runs to investigate barking at the area where the noise came from. So treats wont cure this one.

          Last but not leash I would make sure that her mental stimulation is good right now, the selective deafness early maturity growth phase should have just finished or terminating now so this means she may be a little over driven, which may be pushing the barking too.

          Exercise, training, mental stimulation, self entertaining activities perhaps the Bob a Lot if she is a kibble feeder.

          If you can get control of these little problems now by 15 months things will settle down in to the dog you want. 🙂

          S

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